What is the adoption process like?
A mother and a couple spoke about international and domestic adoption recently at an orphan care Lunch & Learn event at Batesville Christian Church.
Connie Reed recalled, “I started my journey of adoption many years ago” and ended up with “beautiful girl Faith” from China.
When she and husband Rusty were younger, they tried unsuccessfully to adopt in the United States. “It wasn’t meant for us. We went through a lot of heartache.”
Instead, they were foster parents for awhile. After “a lot of tears, a lot of therapy,” on Mother’s Day 1999 Rusty Reed said, “‘I know what we’re going to do. We’re going to go to China and get a little girl!’ I wanted to be a mom so bad, I said, ‘OK, Let’s do it.’ God just unfolded the plan right in front of us.
“There is a lot of paperwork involved,” plus a home study.
“All along the way, people kept backing us.” One key question the couple had to answer: “Why do you want to adopt?”
The Batesville woman said the process took about a year. “We really worked at it,” getting passports, shots and physicals.
Three months after they began the path to find a child to raise, “we had a picture of Faith come through on a fax machine at my office. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. I sent it to Rusty and we were crying over the phone. We were so happy.
She observed, “We said we would accept a special needs child,” since both adults had special needs. “That expedited our adoption.”
They brought the 2-year-old home in 2000. Faith was “a wonderful baby. I remember those days being one of the peak experiences of my life, right up there with baptism and our wedding day. Going to China was phenomenal, especially if you’re interested in other cultures. I’m so glad God paved the way so we could do that.”
The mom reported, “We thought she was hearing impaired,” but they were ready for that as Rusty knew sign language. The couple discovered Faith “can hear perfectly. “She’s got selective hearing sometimes,” Reed joked. The parents did learn their daughter has autism and is mildly mentally handicapped.
Reed admitted, “I still wrestle with things. I’m alone with her (because) my husband passed away.”
Six providers (a therapist, behavioral therapist, two community workers who take her out and about, job coach and case manager) help her 19-year-old daughter. “Just knowing the resources out there is great. They’re there to help you.
“I thank God every day for her and the journey she gave us. I just keep being reaffirmed all the time it was just meant to be.”
Another story of how to grow a family
“Courtney and I have always had a passion for adoption,” Mitch Sefton, Greensburg, explained. “This actually goes back to our first date when she shared with me that she would like to have a very colorful family.” The man realized then he would have to be open to adoption.
“Our family started as what most would consider the all-American family. Courtney was a nurse and I am a (Greensburg Elementary School fifth-grade) teacher. Two years into our marriage, Ayden came along biologically. Life was great, but soon enough there was a void that we felt God had laid on our hearts that we were to grow our family.”
His wife, a former nurse who is now a stay-at-home mom, proposed the idea of adoption. According to her husband, “She thinks it, she shares it, I say she is crazy, and then finally take time to stop and listen to what God truly wants for our lives and say OK.
“I am so glad that I have come around to her ideas because we have two wonderful additions to our family because God has laid adoption on our hearts.”
After a home study by Bethany Christian Services was completed in October, the Seftons had a match meeting with the pregnant mother in November and baby Eliyah was born in Indiana in December six years ago.
“We were blessed with the opportunity to be in the delivery room for his birth. I actually cut my son’s umbilical cord and Courtney was able to feed him his first bottle. We cannot say enough great things about the birth mom and how giving she was in these very special moments with our son.”
About a year later the couple started the process to bring home an international infant, working with the America World Adoption Association. It was quite a different experience from their domestic adoption.
“We did not realize our son would not be born for three and a half years.” The couple started looking for a baby in Africa (in Ethiopia and Lesotho), then had success in India. They brought Niam home last May. “He is not leaving Courtney’s side at all.”
Sefton said, “I know adoptional finances are such a huge burden a lot of people struggle with … It is daunting. There are a lot of sacrifices that must be made.” Their faith family, First Christian Church, Greensburg, “walked right along beside us.” Over 40 families donated items for a gigantic garage sale (“We probably had more inventory than a Goodwill”) that helped offset adoption expenses. “Just to see how faithful our God is, when he calls us to something,” he will provide.
The dad remembered after they brought Eliyah home, “we had 17 cents left in our adoption account!”
He concluded, “It has been a blessing to see not only how adoption has shaped the lives of Courtney and I, but it has been wonderful to see how God has molded the hearts of our boys for the orphan.”
“It is amazing for us to look back and see the way that God has orchestrated our lives. We love hearing stories from other adoptive families because each story is so different, but they are all amazing because of the way you can see the hand of God in the midst of them all.”
The Rev. Mark Bond, Batesville Christian Church lead minister, told attendees he wants to have “an army of people here at the church” who help with orphan care.
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
Second in a two-part series
Part 1: Foster parents and Court-Appointed Special Advocates are needed to help abused and neglected kids, Dec. 5